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Open Call

Open Call - this is when artists are invited (for a fee) to submit work for inclusion in an exhibition. The submitted works are judged and it's wonderful if your work is selected but if it is not, is the time, energy, money and heart ache involved really justified?

Protect Your Own

For me, being self-taught, I like to think of Open Call exhibitions as art school research projects. The deadline is definitely the most important aspect since this prompts me to actually complete my work. Then I have to photograph it nicely. With three-dimensional wall-mounted works this is not easy. Entering the competition forces me to work through the frustrations around presenting my work in a way that accurately reflects the original.


fine silver and knitted leather, cotton and paper

An interesting part of the process is looking at the organisation that is hosting the competition, their history and philosophy and how they work to market their exhibition. It's always useful as an artist to know more about how art is promoted. I look through the works that have been previously accepted and spend some time looking in more detail at those artists who are working in my area. I have a good research of the judges, reading about their careers and looking at their work. This is always very inspiring!

Tall Poppy

Then, when submitting my work, I'm usually asked for a statement about each one. For me, this is the most educational aspect of the process. This is when I have to think hard about not only my motivation in making the work and what it might represent for me, but also how to really transmit my thought process to others within the prescribed word limit and in a way that is humble and genuine.

Finally and crucially, entering a competition requires detachment. Approaching it from an educational point of view helps a lot with this. The cost of entering is very little compared to the cost of an art course. The process of entering has been the primary purpose with being shortlisted or accepted a very lovely but not in any way essential outcome.


hand knitted fine silver, leather and covered elastane

Keep it Together

That said, after entering National Open Art for the third time this year, I was of course completely ecstatic when I was told that all the works in this post had been shortlisted! This sort of recognition is great for anyone's CV and even more important for the self-taught.

So, my feeling is that it's always worth a try. Keep up the meditation though, because that will help you to remain unscathed by rejection. In fact, if I'm not in the right space for rejection, I find it best to protect my artistic self and not enter this time. There will always be more Open Calls.


knitted covered elastane

lisa heath artist blog